Wired’s ever-snarky Noah Shachtman, the main man behind their “Danger Room” blog and a contributor to DefenseTech.org, has a piece about the Mumbai terrorists’ use of new media, information, and communication technologies to aid in their attack.
The funny thing about that is that one month ago Mr. Shachtman took the usual snarky, dismissive tone in a piece about a U.S. Army intelligence report that mentioned the possibility of terrorist use of Twitter as an aid to coordinating an attack. Not only did Mr. Shachtman overstate the emphasis on Twitter in the report–the report was primarily focused on terrorist use of GPS-enabled cell phones–he portrayed Army concern with terrorist use of Twitter as “even more theoretical” than use of mobile devices, implying of course that concern with use of such devices is merely “theoretical.” But in his most recent piece he writes,
For years, terrorists and insurgents around the world have used off-the-shelf hardware and software to stay ahead of bigger, better-funded authorities. In 2007, former U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid complained that, with their Radio Shack stockpile of communications gear, “this enemy is better networked than we are.”
Of course. Everyone knows that…except Noah Shachtman as of one month ago. This issue was no doubt the concern that served as the motivation for the Army report that he misprepresented and dismissed. So, is it that Mr. Shachtman really didn’t know that terrorist use of off-the-shelf technologies was an issue as late as last month? (NOTE: He says in the Oct. 24 piece that “For years, American analysts have been concerned” about terrorist use of these technologies, but not that it is actually the case that they have been using them, his position in the Dec. 1 piece.) Or is it that he knew, but he just wanted to make a splash and get some links? Reporting accurately about the Army report, noting that the concern expressed in the report was legitimate, would not do that. Playing up the Twitter angle, being snarky and dismissive as usual, did just the trick.
Any acknowledgement that recent events indicate that his previous portrayal of cell phones and Twitter as “theoretical” and “even more theoretical” threats (respectively) was off the mark? Of course not. A link to his previous piece on the Army report at least? Nope. Let’s just pretend he never wrote that piece.